MORE ON THE MISSING WMD….So what really happened to the WMD? Here’s Bill Clinton a couple of days ago:
When I left office, there was a substantial amount of biological and chemical material unaccounted for. That is, at the end of the first Gulf War, we knew what he had. We knew what was destroyed in all the inspection processes and that was a lot. And then we bombed with the British for four days in 1998. We might have gotten it all; we might have gotten half of it; we might have gotten none of it. But we didn’t know.
Digby blogged about this a couple of days ago, but it didn’t really sink in until I read this transcript: maybe the 1998 bombings destroyed all the WMD that was left at that point. And maybe Saddam never reconstituted his WMD programs.
This poses a perplexing problem. Donald Rumsfeld has already admitted that we didn’t really have any new intelligence about Saddam’s WMD programs, and it’s possible that we destroyed all his existing stocks in 1998. So when we demanded that Saddam account for the missing WMD, maybe he really couldn’t, because he wasn’t the one who destroyed it. We were.
Clinton thinks we did the right thing in Iraq because we didn’t know for sure, and in a post-9/11 world we couldn’t take any chances. Maybe. But if the president’s case for war had relied on (a) the mere possibility that some amount of WMD had survived the 1998 attacks and might not have deteriorated by now, (b) a lack of evidence one way or the other about any ongoing programs, and (c) the proposition that we couldn’t take any chances over this even though we didn’t know much of anything ? would he have gotten much support?
Again, maybe. You never know. But it sure would have been a lot dicier, wouldn’t it?
UPDATE: Then again, this guy says all the WMD was taken to the Beka Valley in Lebanon a month before the war, and we’re going to dig it up right before the elections. Works for me.
UPDATE 2: Or this: maybe it really doesn’t matter because WMD wasn’t the reason for the war anyway. Dan Drezner says he’s going weigh in on the merits of lying about the reason for war tomorrow, and I might too. It’s an interesting topic.